Sunderland eased past Carlisle yesterday with the help from a few new faces. While the team was relatively strong from the start, teenager Benji Kimpioka became Sunderland’s first ever goal scorer born in the 21st century.
The Swedish striker made his first start for the senior team and it only took three minutes for the youngster to make his mark. The striker was a threat all game with his pace and energy, he could have easily added a second late on if It wasn’t for Adam Collin’s miraculous save.
While it’s easy to get ahead of yourself and expect too much from young players, it's also easy to see how raw and unpolished Kimpioka is. He may not be far off the first team now with injuries, but it looks like a year with Elliot Dickman’s u23s will do him the world of good.
It’s great to see the youngsters come into the side wanting to impress and Benji fits into this category. However, he wasn’t the only youngster to play against Carlisle, as Jack Diamond and Luke Connolly also appeared late in the game.
We’ve seen a lot of u23 players make the step up in recent seasons with George Honeyman, Lynden Gooch, Josh Maja, Denver Hume and Bali Mumba, who have all been used this campaign and with great effect too.
Ethan Robson, who has struggled with injuries of late, got his chance to impress Jack Ross. He did exactly that as he scored a fine goal from 20 yards which was brilliantly hit into the bottom corner. Unfortunately for Robson, he was forced off with a knock. You could see his frustration as he walked off just before the halftime break.
Robson has been on the fringes for a few years now but has never had a significant run of games. With Ethan’s injury not as serious as first thought, he may get his chance in the league. Dylan McGeouch has not overly impressed and with Max Power suspended again, Jack Ross might just take a chance and see how Robson can perform in League One, or at least have him on the bench.
For the fans, it’s massive that you have an element of North East talent, who have been here and have known the club for years. Most importantly have a group who care about the club. George Honeyman epitomises this, while he often splits opinion, you never hear people saying he didn’t try. When you listen to him being interviewed you just know how much he cares about Sunderland, it’s his club. Like so many young fans you dream of lifting a trophy and touch wood he will this season.
We need more players with the same mentality of Honeyman coming through and potentially Diamond or Connolly could be those players in years to come. When the two young lads came on the crowd changed a little, you got a sense of pride in wanting these young players to come on and grab a goal. As a fan, you almost care that bit more about a player if he’s from the same area as you.